High risks in the sign industry

The sign industry requires engineers to work in many hazardous situations, often posing risks to health and safety. With suitable procedures and training in place, these hazards can be avoided, potentially saving lives.

Falls from height:

The latest figures gained from the Health and Safety Executive (HSEThe Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - The body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in England and Wales and Scotland.) show that falls from height while at work have been the cause of 35 deaths in 2008/09. Although this is a record low in the industry it remains the most common work place accident to cause fatal injuries. A large amount of work can be carried out from ground level, however if it really cannot, the appropriate equipment should be available. All credible sign companies will insist on the completion of a Working at Height Checklist, of which you can request a copy.

Information on the Working at Height Regulations can be found at www.opsi.gov.uk

Further information regarding health and safety at work can be found at www.hse.gov.uk

Under-qualified crews:

Hiring a sign company with under-skilled crews could lead you, and your company, into legal peril. If accidents occur, you may share accountability. Ask for proof of qualifications before allowing engineers to start work on your premises.

Details of all qualifications held by Xmo Strata engineers can be found via links on the Qualifications and what they mean page

Hazchem environments:

This covers high-risk environments such as petrol forecourts or places where asbestos may be present, the use of Personal Protective Equipment, the removal and disposal of hazardous waste and the control of substances hazardous to health.

Hazardous substances:

Each company should have Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHHControl of Substances Hazardous To Health.) assessments. It is crucial that engineers who may come into contact with chemicals, fuel or solvents understand the dangers involved and can handle these situations appropriately.

For more information on COSHHControl of Substances Hazardous To Health. visit www.coshh-essentials.org.uk

Public safety:

Sign installation and maintenance projects are often carried out while premises are still operational. Due to the nature of the work, it is imperative that precautions are in place to protect the users of your facilities – and the public – while work is taking place. This can involve barriers and safety notices.


This is the largest killer in the workplace. Asbestos-related disease kills 4,000 people a year and this number is predicted to rise significantly within the next decade.

Hazardous waste:

Fluorescent and neon tubes are legally categorised as hazardous waste. If anything deemed as such is carelessly dumped by your sign company, you could be held partly responsible. Dumped materials can be traced back to your site and criminal proceedings may follow.

Find out more about the disposal of hazardous waste at www.environment-agency.gov.uk

Personal Protective Equipment:

Equipment used for operator protection needs to be regularly checked to ensure it is safe for use (specific life expectancy is applied to some equipment). The current legislation maps out the relevant PPEPersonal Protective Equipment. to be used. Incorrect or un-serviced equipment can put engineers in considerable danger.

For further information see Personal Protective Equipment (PPEPersonal Protective Equipment.)

Mobile scaffold towers:

Mobile scaffold towers are widely used and can provide an effective and safe means of gaining access to work at height. Towers rely on all parts being in place to ensure adequate strength, and could collapse if components are left out or towers positioned incorrectly.

Operators using mobile scaffold towers must be properly trained. Certain parts of some towers may not be compatible with others, potentially resulting in mechanical failure. This can be avoided by looking at the company’s mobile scaffold tower register; it should provide evidence that all components are registered to one tower only. Approved methods of erecting a tower are recommended by PASMAPASMA - Prefabricated Access Suppliers' & Manufacturers' Association. (For mobile scaffold users) and the Health and Safety Executive (see links below).

Find out more about the use of mobile scaffold towers at